I don’t often get embroiled in political debate but this latest referendum just has me stumped to be honest.
For those outside our wonderful green island, we are being asked to vote on Friday on two topics – one whether we should abolish our Seanad (Senate), and the second question we are being asked is should we create a Court of Appeal?
There are a couple of things that bother me about this referendum.
If for the moment we cast aside the ‘governance’ issues, the financial figures they are throwing out as a good reason to get rid of the Seanad just don’t make sense to me.
Let me explain. The current expenditure on salaries and expenses for 64 people (!!!) is €8.8 million. There is a amount of €2 million being quoted for pensions. A princely sum of €10.8 million.
And then the figure of €9.3 million is being bandied about for non-pay and indirect pay???? What the hell are those???? There is no explanation that I’ve come across for that second figure – has anyone seen one?
The plan is to relieve 64 people of their jobs – will they be paid a severance package? I’m sure they will, they always do. They will also immediately be on a pension – and as far as I am aware generally those pensions would be around 75% of their current salary. So if we take 75% of – let’s be cautious here – say, €9 million (yes, I’m allowing the €1.8 million for expenses). So that means the 64 senators will still cost us €6.75 million!!
Then the setting up of the new Court of Appeal – which INITIALLY will have 10 judges – is going to cost us €3 million. Not sure how long ‘initially’ is, and what the ultimate cost will be.
Are you getting my drift? Yep, €6.75 + €3 = €9.75 million. We are going through all this to save €250,000!!!!
I know I am ignoring the €9 million figure – the best I can find out about this figure is it is to provide heat and maintenance in one room within government buildings – now come on???? The whole complex should not be costing that much to run.
And we haven’t even talked about the costs of running the referendum!!!!!
So let’s think about the governance side of things.
Who is going to keep a ‘checks and balances’ watch on our government? We are told we, as individuals or groups, can ‘appeal’ decisions to this new Court of Appeal – who is going to be able to afford to take a case to court because we think it is not the right decision for the country???? How long will that process take?
And, perhaps the worst fact of all, is that our Taoiseach (Prime Minister) is refusing to enter into a televised debate…… does this not smack of dictatorship????